Parkinson's Exercise

‘Freezing’: a common Parkinson’s symptom

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Dear Patrick,

I’m having problems with freezing in my home. Strangely enough, it seems to occur frequently at the same location in my kitchen. I have an island that sticks out in the center of my kitchen with the prep sink and often times when I try to walk through that area I freeze. Can you tell me why this is happening and do you have any suggestions?

Thanks in advance, Carol M.

Answer:

Hi Carol, thanks for your question. The situation with freezing that you are experiencing is not uncommon. Parkinson’s symptoms such as freezing can be exacerbated by stress or concerns about navigating through an area. You might also be experiencing freezes in doorways? That is also common. One suggestion I have is to set up your home to maximize both your comfort and ability to successfully and safely navigate. In regards to the area near your sink, you might try putting a piece of tape on the floor  to serve as a visual target for you to step on or over.

Freezes can often be broken by utilizing a visual target or cue.  You can purchase inexpensive blue or green tape at your local hardware store which is used to mask off areas while painting. It won’t damage your floor and can be removed once you get better at passing through that area.

Setting up your home for both safety and function is an important task for anyone living with Parkinson’s disease. You can ask your neurologist for a prescription for occupational therapy to help with activities of daily living as well as asking the therapist for tips on making your home more comfortable and safe.

Two common hazards that can easily be remedied are cabinet corners and throw rugs. Many families lay down throw rugs in high-traffic areas such as doorways and halls to avoid wearing down the rug beneath. This is a miss guided strategy and a bad idea. The cost of a broken hip is significantly more than the cost eventually re-carpeting. Tripping over a throw rug is probably the leading cause of falls in the home. How to remedy this? Pick up the throw rugs and throw them out, all of them. I wish I could change the name from the “throw rug” to the “throw out rug.”

Another common hazard is sharp corners on cabinets or tables. I had a client named Bill who had a new cut or nick on the top of his head every time I showed up for his in-home exercise sessions. He had a low hanging cabinet with a sharp corner just above the toaster where he would prepare his breakfast in the morning. He’d hit his head on the corner of that cabinet at least once a week. I purchased a foam corner pad, that is designed to make homes safe for small children, and attached it to the corner. Bill’s head healed and that was the end of the weekly cuts to his head. These pads are easily installed (most have adhesive backs) and are available at any hardware store or can be ordered online.

http://www.amazon.com/Interbusiness-Infant-Safety-Cushion-Protector/dp/B00MHDPGSO

Parkinson’s disease is a difficult diagnosis, but making intelligent decisions in regards to the way you live can make all the difference. Keep moving and take heart in the fact that you can often find ways of overcoming many of your Parkinson’s symptoms.

Ask Patrick is an advice/opinion column based on my experiences working with people with Parkinson’s disease as a trainer and an advocate. It is not intended to replace the instructions of your doctor. Always consult with your doctor if there is a change in your status or if you have questions about their instructions. All exercise has an inherent risk of injury so proceed cautiously.

For more information and free Parkinsons exercise videos, visit PatrickLoSasso.com or email Patrick with your questions at patrick@PatrickLoSasso.com

5 replies
  1. Elaine Thompson
    Elaine Thompson says:

    Patrick,
    I too am experienced freezing. It first appeared on the tennis court two years ago. At first I blamed my tennis shoes. I went for the ball and my body and racquet was willing but my feet just stuck to the court. I fell so hard on my knees that I thought that I broke my knee caps. It happened again and I hung up my tennis racquet. Tennis is my first love and being able to play made it a little easier to cope with Parkinsons. I tried wearing knee pads and had my husband hit the ball to me. But not being able to move my feet to the ball I began having back aches. I still experience freezing but not just in one location. It could happen in the house when I’m sitting and want to get up or getting out of the car. I have to do a couple of shuffle steps to get going. Is there any exercise I can do to get back on those tennis courts?

    Elaine

    • Elaine Thompson
      Elaine Thompson says:

      Patrick,
      I too am experiencing freezing. It first appeared on the tennis court two years ago. Are there any exercises I can do to get back on the tennis courts?

      Elaine

    • Patrick LoSasso, Trainer, CSCS,*D
      Patrick LoSasso, Trainer, CSCS,*D says:

      Hi Elaine, I’m sorry you’re having this freezing trouble, I’m sure it is extremely frustrating, especially when it’s interfering with your tennis, a hobby which you obviously love. I have seen this type of freezing many times and managing it can be difficult and inconsistent, but I do have some ideas. First, and as always, consult with your neurologist. He/She will have some medical treatment suggestions that could make a difference very quickly. The balancing of the proper prescriptions is an art form and can take some time to get right, so be patient.

      Here are some ideas for you in terms of exercise. Let me start by cautioning that all forms of exercise have an inherent risk of injury so proceed cautiously and be sure you’re not attempting something unsafe or beyond your ability.

      To begin, when you workout or play tennis, make sure you preform a proper 10 minute warm-up prior to your physical activity. This is extremely important in preparing your body and maximizing your body and brain’s ability to physically respond to visual prompts such as an approaching tennis ball. Your warmup should involve large, sweeping movements that engage both your arms and your legs. If you’re looking for ideas, view my youtube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dz56iWMu_Xs.
      Or browse the other videos I’ve posted, they may help you get started.

      Also, you should be pursuing a Parkinson’s-specific, coordinated exercise program. It should incorporate strategies that help to open up the hip and encourage large, flowing, broad movements for the full body. Spend time on encouraging ankle flexion as well. (walking around on your heels between sets is a good way to get the muscles on the front of the shins active again.)

      I hope these ideas are helpful. In closing, consulting with your neurologist and maintaining an exercise program that addresses you symptoms is the best approach. If you can’t afford a trainer (one who understands PD), you might ask your Dr. for a prescription for physical therapy. If you get one, make sure the PT you choose knows Parkinsons and has training experience preparing individuals for their sport-specific demands(in your case, tennis). A PT who understands PD with a CSCS credential would be an excellent fit for you!

      All the best to you Elaine, feel free to contact me at my personal email at patrick@patricklosasso.com.

      Patrick

  2. Violet Y. Lasky
    Violet Y. Lasky says:

    Patrick,
    Hello, My Friend, hope all is going well with you.
    I find my PD is progressing. In regards to the “And Up”, that does not work for me any longer. I
    fortunately have a very kind, considerate Friend in my life whose parents passed away. she was kind enough to think of me when it came time to sell the old house, getting rid of various items, among them
    The Hydraulc Chair, that has become my “And Up”!
    I have a question for you. My shoulders are in a constant knotted state always! Never an exception. I have regular daily Muscle Spasms that cause me to freeze in place and often yell out in pain that grips
    both shoulders but more oftenly, my right one. I’ve had Rotater Cuff Surgery on both shoulders several years ago, the right one a repair, the left one could not be repaired, I have an implant in the left. I am on regular daily pain and Muscle Relaxers, plus Anxiety meds. Is there some sort of exercise that will not exacerbate the pain and help to maybe strengthen them? Also, my hands are beginning to Knarl up into
    frozen balls when playing cards or making Jewelry, which is a hobby passion for me!
    Thank you for being there for us, I follow you on a regular basis. Oh yes, I love the background in the
    And Up exercise, just beautiful, relaxing. It was good seeing Mike demonstrate for you.
    Best regards, Vi Lasky, Burbank Parkinson’s Caregivers’ Support Group.

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